Pope Francis: Look for the beauty of Jesus’ transfiguration in everyday life

Angelus March 5 2023 Pope Francis waves to the crowd in St. Peter's Square on March 5, 2023, during his Sunday Angelus reflection. | Vatican Media

During his Sunday morning Angelus address, Pope Francis urged the faithful to reflect on the miracle of the Transfiguration and to see the same beauty in the faces of the people we interact with every day. 

In the March 5 address, the pope discussed the “beauty” shown in Sunday’s Gospel reading of Matthew 17:1–9. In this passage, Peter and James and his brother John witness Christ “transfigured before them” with his face shining “like the sun” and his clothes “dazzling white” as he conversed with Moses and Elijah on the top of a mountain. 

Pope Francis said that we must “see the same beauty on the faces of the people who walk beside us every day,” such as family, friends, and colleagues. 

“How many luminous faces, how many smiles, how many wrinkles, how many tears and scars reveal love around us,” the pope said.

“Let us learn to recognize them and to fill our hearts with them. And then let us set out in order to bring the light we have received to others as well, through concrete acts of love diving into our daily occupations more generously, loving, serving, and forgiving with greater earnestness and willingness,” the Holy Father said. “The contemplation of God’s wonders, the contemplation of God’s face, of the Lord’s face, must move us to the service of others.”

Reflecting on beauty the apostles respond to in the Gospel account, the pope asked, “Of what does this beauty consist? What do the disciples see? A special effect? No, that is not it.

“They see the light of God’s holiness shining on the face and on the clothing of Jesus, the perfect image of the Father,” the pope continued.

“God’s majesty, God’s beauty is revealed. But God is love. Therefore, the disciples had been beholding with their eyes the beauty and splendor of divine love incarnate in Christ. They had a foretaste of paradise. What a surprise for the disciples!” he said. “They had the face of love before their very eyes for so long without ever being aware of how beautiful it was! Only now do they realize it with such joy, with immense joy.”

Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square to hear Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus reflection on March 5, 2023. Vatican Media
Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square to hear Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus reflection on March 5, 2023. Vatican Media

Pope Francis warned against reducing the miracle to simply a “magical moment,” which he said would be “false, artificial, something that would dissolve into the fog of passing sentiment.” He said, rather, this demonstrates something deeper.

“Christ is the light that orients our journey like the pillar of fire for the people in the wilderness,” the pontiff explained. “Jesus’ beauty does not alienate his disciples from the reality of life but gives them the strength to follow him all the way to Jerusalem, all the way to the cross. Christ’s beauty is not alienating. It always brings you forward. It does not make you hide. Go forward!”

The Gospel reading also “traces a path for us,” according to Pope Francis. He explained how the passage “teaches us how important it is to remain with Jesus even when it is not easy to understand everything he says and does for us.” By staying with Christ, he said “we learn to recognize on his face the luminous beauty of love he gives us, even when it bears the marks of the cross.”

Near the end of his address, Pope Francis told people to ask themselves whether they “recognize the light of God’s love in our lives” and whether they “recognize it with joy and gratitude on the faces of the people who love us.” 

“Do we look around us for the signs of this light that fills our hearts and open them to love and service?” the pope told people to ask themselves. “Or do we prefer the straw fires of idols that alienate us and close us in on ourselves? The great light of the Lord and the false, artificial light of idols. Which do I prefer?”

Following his address, Pope Francis said he is continuing to pray for the victims of a Feb. 28 train accident in Greece, many of whom are young students. He said he is also praying for the victims of a Feb. 26 shipwreck near Crotone, Italy. The pope also welcomed pilgrims and asked people to continue praying for him.

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